States not tapping Internet's potential

"Assessing E-Government: The Internet, Democracy, and Service Delivery byState and Federal Governments"

State governments as a whole are not capitalizing on the potential of the

Internet and other digital means to deliver information and services to

their citizens, according to a study released Friday by Brown University's

Taubman Center for Public Policy (www.insidepolitics.org).

The analysis gave top ranks to Texas, Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania

and Illinois. Rhode Island, Delaware, New Hampshire, South Dakota and Nevada

did poorly.

Not surprisingly, states with small populations "had access to fewer

resources and had difficulty achieving economies of scale necessary for

technology initiatives," said the report, titled "Assessing E-Government:

The Internet, Democracy and Service Delivery by State and Federal Governments."

The Taubman Center's conclusions are based on a survey of state and

federal chief information officers, analysis of 1,813 state and federal

government Web sites and an e-mail response test.

The research on government Web sites found that:

* Only 5 percent show some form of security policy. Kansas had the most

secure sites. Fifteen states failed to have any sites with a security statement.

* Only 7 percent have a privacy policy. Michigan led in this area, with

20 percent of its government sites having some sort of privacy policy.

* Only 15 percent offer some form of disability access, such as TTY

(Text Telephone) or TDD (Telephone Device for the Deaf) or are approved

by disability organizations. Illinois and Minnesota ranked far ahead of

other states.

* Only 4 percent offer foreign language translation features. Florida

leads the list with 26 percent of its sites having foreign language adaptability.

* Only 22 percent offer at least one online service. Kansas had the

highest percentage of sites providing some type of services.

The report concluded states need better standardization and coordination

between agencies and departments. The report applauded Washington, Indiana,

Nebraska and Connecticut for connecting their Web sites with a standardized

system. These pages were linked to a gateway page, and often the toolbar

also provided an index and search engine.

In general, the study found federal government sites did a better job

of offering information and services, especially access to databases.

"The general problem with government Web sites is that a lot is being

focused on look as opposed to content," said report author Darrell West

in an interview.

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